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Science and Other Ways of Knowing
by Yasemin Bolkan
I had always understood the scientific method to be about developing hypotheses based on observation, which were adopted as truth only if they passed rigorous testing through experimental reproducibility or logical validation. This methodology appeared so fundamental that it became my trusted instrument for approaching life. I felt secure in its reliability—until the day I was diagnosed with final-stage lymphoma.
According to the oncologist, I had "no more than two weeks to live unless radical chemotherapy worked wonders." My mind was bombarded into numbness by the grim cancer diagnosis and subsequent severe treatments.
While my mind was lost in chaos, my heart knew to open up and accept help despite feeling vulnerable. Still weakened from the illness, I received intense hands-on-healing for a month. Blood tests taken prior to and immediately following this period showed that my immune system had improved miraculously from below minimum to a healthy norm. A number of such encounters that involved nothing but touch, love, and pure intention, infused me with the necessary strength to regain my health.
The death-threatening cancer diagnosis occurred more than six years ago. Initially, it was bewildering not to have a logical answer either to why I fell so desperately ill, or to why I survived against the odds while others succumbed to the disease. Yet witnessing these experiences on my own body expanded my awareness, forcing me to acknowledge that life was far too complex to be contained within my rational, yet naïve worldview.
What had appeared to be a devastating loss in terms of my previously limited comprehension revealed its gift in a new view of multifaceted reality. Extreme fatigue brought on by the illness and associated treatments, combined with involuntary solitude due to isolation, had quieted the noise of my outer world. This allowed for the subtle voice of an intuitive knowing to surface within my consciousness. The why's and how's that had occupied my mind were calmed by a soothing sense of connectedness with all. This revelation was so real that proving it became secondary to embracing it wholly.
My initial experience at the time of diagnosis had been one of free falling, certain to burst into pieces once I hit solid ground. Upon contact, however, concrete turned ocean, and I found myself immersed in gentle waters. At first, this sensation appeared to be a distortion of what I knew to be true. In hindsight, I came to realize that I had fallen through illusions into a deeper knowing.
The near fatal illness and the powerful adventure of healing have introduced me to new dimensions of reality that have filled me with awe for the vastness of life. A curiosity has awakened in me toward ways of knowing that I have yet to explore. In the meantime, I delight in translating the essence of my heart-felt experiences into the abstract symbolism of language, in the hope of sharing it with others. Attempting to bridge the gap between experience and thought brings meaning to my human existence.
My commitment to life is to focus on being present in the moment and to stay open to possibilities beyond expectations. I trust that the truths of future experiences will continue to trickle into my consciousness - whichever 'way' they happen to flow through in their own instant, enriching me with new aspects of knowing.
All contents of this page Copyright © 2003 by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Materials may be excerpted, reprinted, or republished only with the express written consent of IONS.